Duke Energy And State Draft Settlement In Coal Ash Lawsuit

Jul 16, 2013

Duke Energy has reached a tentative settlement with the state of North Carolina regarding lawsuits over leaks from its coal ash ponds in Asheville and on the Catawba River. 

The company has agreed to pay a $99,112 fine.  The consent order would require the company to determine the cause and the extent of those leaks into groundwater and into Mountain Island Lake, the source of Charlotte’s drinking water supply.  Susan Massengale with the NC Division of Water Quality says the proposed agreement lays out a timeline for Duke to do that. 

“As long as they are following the timeline that is in this document, they won’t have additional fines at this time.”

If Duke doesn’t follow the timeline, it would be fined $1,000 a day for the first 30 days and after that, $5,000 a day. 

The Southern Environmental Law Center criticized the proposed settlement.  The group says the state and other environmental groups already have a couple years worth of data showing that contamination is a problem.  The SELC sued Duke over the leaks last month. 

Duke spokeswoman Erin Culbert says there’s no evidence the leaks are threatening water quality or harming Charlotte’s drinking water.  She says the studies will help regulators make informed, site-specific decisions.

The public has thirty days to weigh in on the proposed settlement.